Fashion month came and went with the click of the “Leave Meeting” button on Zoom. For many of us, the last thing on our minds may be purchasing a new designer handbag or a blue chip work of art.
The annual celebration of haute couture arrived against the backdrop of massive change, as a new generation is forging ahead and renegotiating the rules of engagement for the luxury space. Gen Z (born roughly between 1995 and 2010) already accounts for 40% of all consumers, and will make up 10- to 15% of the luxury market by the year 2025, according to Bain and Co. If you’re not already paying attention to the influence of the next gen, it’s time to do so.
Here are our five things you need to know to win over the luxury Gen Z consumer:
Don’t be afraid to have personality; express it
For too long, luxury brands were built upon an image of hyper-precision, utmost discretion, and in many ways, exclusivity and inaccessibility. That doesn’t work with Gen Z. We’re coming of age in strange (and often overwhelming) times, and we want brands to speak to the circumstances we inhabit. It’s no longer cool to be rarefied and voiceless. As more people become like personal brands, we relate to brands that speak to us like people.
Gucci was one of the earliest adopters of meme-culture and has embraced self-parody, even launching its own #GucciFakeNot campaign this month. This type of irreverent humor cuts through the noise because it shows that even Gucci is “in on the joke.” In today’s world, that often means you’re “in” as a brand as well.
Consider Telfar, which launched its “Bag Security Program” this summer to much excitement and acclaim. Rather than create a false sense of scarcity to drive demand, Telfar’s leadership found a way to speak openly about its production process to make the brand feel inclusive and accessible. At the same time, the company’s marketing strategy was able to maintain the brand’s status as an “it” bag. Brands that aren’t afraid to take risks—whether in their humor or their marketing tactics—are leading the charge.
Establish a clear set of values—and act upon them
Unlike earlier generations who would wear brands to signal their taste, we’re choosing brands that reflect our values.
In fact, 49% of Gen Zers want brands to have a social impact initiative that they can be a part of.
Gen Z is the most progressive, diverse, and outspoken generation in modern history—and we opt for brands that are built upon clear missions of their own. Take a look at MadHappy, which sells high-end comfortwear. It’s on a “mission to make the world a more optimistic place.” The company developed its brand around de-stigmatizing mental health through its cheery “Local Optimist” statement sweats. MadHappy even launched its own mental health resources, including the brand’s own counseling hotline.
Savage x Fenty, which has disrupted the lingerie and intimate-wear space by committing itself to broader body and gender representation, provides another example of this trend towards aligning a brand with social meaning.